Stuff (& Possibly Nonsense) #142

Published On December 15, 2017 | By Joe Gordon | Books, Comics, Film TV & Theatre

Yes, it’s the end of the week and that means time for our regular round up of news and links we’ve spotted over the last few days with another Stuff & Possibly Nonsense:

Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One delighted a pile of readers around the world (including me and most of my long running SF book group), so it’s fair to say a lot of fans are pretty excited about the forthcoming movie adaptation, and just to whet our appetites more, the new trailer dropped recently:

The film is set in 2045, with the world on the brink of chaos and collapse. But the people have found salvation in the OASIS, an expansive virtual reality universe created by the brilliant and eccentric James Halliday (Mark Rylance). When Halliday dies, he leaves his immense fortune to the first person to find a digital Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the OASIS, sparking a contest that grips the entire world. When an unlikely young hero named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) decides to join the contest, he is hurled into a breakneck, reality-bending treasure hunt through a fantastical universe of mystery, discovery and danger.

Joining Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse, Mud), Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Bates Motel), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One – A Star Wars Story, Bloodline) and T.J. Miller (Deadpool, Silicon Valley), with Simon Pegg (the Star Trek movies, the Mission: Impossible movies) and Oscar winner Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, Dunkirk) round out the cast. Directed by Spielberg from a screenplay by Zak Penn and Ernest Cline, Ready Player One was produced by Spielberg, Donald De Line, Kristie Macosko Krieger and Dan Farah; with Adam Somner, Daniel Lupi, Chris DeFaria and Bruce Berman as executive producers. The film is slated for release worldwide beginning 30th March from Warner Bros.”


(Although as many folks have pointed out on social media – not quite sure what’s going on with that leg!)

Seems to be the time for trailers as we have another new one, this time from James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel:

Visionary filmmakers James Cameron (Avatar) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) create a groundbreaking new heroine in Alita: Battle Angel, an action-packed story of hope, love and empowerment. Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita (Rosa Salazar) is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in.

Everything is new to Alita, every experience a first. As she learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield Alita from her mysterious past while her street-smart new friend, Hugo (Keean Johnson), offers instead to help trigger her memories. A growing affection develops between the two until deadly forces come after Alita and threaten her newfound relationships. It is then that Alita discovers she has extraordinary fighting abilities that could be used to save the friends and family she’s grown to love. Determined to uncover the truth behind her origin, Alita sets out on a journey that will lead her to take on the injustices of this dark, corrupt world, and discover that one young woman can change the world in which she lives.

The redountable Sarah McIntyre continues to campaign for illustrators to be properly credited and listed on various book and library and publishing databases. All too often systems, from the bestseller lists to the databases of publications for books and libraries, simply list the writer and not the artist for illustrated works. As well as being grossly unfair to artistic collaborators, as Sarah points out it is also against the best interests of the book trade itself – if more information, such as the illustrators’ names, are included, it makes it far simpler to find on searches, and we live in a world where searching for data is a daily activity, especially for youngsters, who many of the illsutrated works are aimed at. More on Sarah’s blog here.

The BBC site has a long article up on the importance of Eltsree Studios in the making of the original Star Wars, and on the documentary The Galaxy Britain Built, all about the filming of the original movie in UK studios, with the documentary airing on BBC4 on December 21st.

Late this week Disney confirmed what had been rumoured previously – they plan to buy 20th Century Fox. The massive merger would take in Fox’s entertainment assets. Comics fans are excited because this means we could now have more of the Marvel characters Fox has the film rights to in the main Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is owned by Disney. We already had a taste of this with the Spider-Man-Avengers crossover, and again with Iron Man appearing in the (frankly brilliant) new Spider-Man movie. So does this open the way for the X-Men, Deadpool et all to be folded fully into the Marvel film universe? Possibly, but given Marvel has a serious schedule and plan for its interconnected films, I don’t imagine it will make a huge different right away.

Away from the fan service though, many are uncomfortable about the sheer amount of media power this adds to Disney’s already formidable arsenal, especially in the wake of their spat with the LA Times earlier this year, when they barred all reporters from the paper from their press screenings and publicity information because they didn’t like a review. Many other media outlets reacted furiously to this bullying and intimidation – basically always give us positive reviews or you don’t get to see our stuff in advance for reviews – by telling Disney they would also stop covering any of their output until the blacklist was lifted. At the time many commented this was a mega corporation using its muscle in an intimidatory fashion and worried that any new growth or merger would only make this problem worse. So yes, this may be good for fans for some films, but it should also worry a lot of people… (via the BBC)

Orbit Books notes that Andrzej Sapkowski’s bestselling Witcher series of novels, which is being adapted by Netflix for a TV series, now has Lauren Schmidt Hissrich (Daredevil, Defenders) as the showrunner and exec producer. Ye dark gods, but we seem to be in a golden age of SF&F books and comics being adapted for high-quality TV productions, so different to the old days when we were lucky to get one or two telefantasy series a year! Long may it continue… Another good one for top SF publisher Orbit, who also publish the Expanse novels which have already generated a great response with the TV adaptation.

We’ve posted many times on here over the year on some of the fantastic covers for the famous New Yorker (which has a had a whole roster of comics artists among its contributors), but here is something different yet related – The Not Yorker. For all those remarkable covers there have been many that, for one reason or another, had been commissioned but then not used, and The Not Yorker site collects a lot of those artworks that would, in some parallel dimension, have been the actual cover. Well worth bookmarking for a good browse, here are a couple as a taster (via BoingBoing):

(Christmas 2017 by John Tomac)

(yes, I know, bit late for Halloween, but this unused cover by Jack Dylan made me laugh so I had to share it here. Besides it has a nice Addams Family vibe to it which is fun even if it isn’t Halloween)

And since we mentioned the actual New Yorker, the fab Tom Gauld tweeted this process post for his Christmas cover, from scribble to rough to  the finished and coloured artwork:

Very fine Indy UK press Myriad Editions has secured English language rights from Swizz publisher Edition Moderne for Olivier Kugler’s Escaping War and Waves: Encounters with Syrian Refugees. From the description:

Olivier Kugler’s compelling series of evocative drawings documents the experiences of Syrian refugees he met in Iraqi Kurdistan, Greece, France, Germany, Switzerland and England, mostly on assignment for Médecins Sans Frontières. Based on many interviews, and hundreds of reference photos, Kugler’s beautifully observed drawings of his interviewees bring to life their location – a room, a camp, on the road. His reporting of their stories is peppered with snatches of conversation and images of the objects that have become such a significant part of their lives.”

Some readers may already be familiar with Olivier’s work as it has appeared in a number of publications, such as the Guardian. Given we live in a society where certain types of people now quite openly flaunt hatred and bigotry, to the extent that they can refer to refugees as “cockroaches” and demand they are shot in the waters, work like this is incredibly important – far harder to demonise and dehumanise suffering and people when you’re reading first hand accounts and thinking therefore but for the grace of god go I… Kudos to Myriad for publishing this, I imagine it will be a very difficult but compelling read and I’m sure I will be putting it on my list when it comes out next June.

Chris Riddell provides the perfect riposte to what many of us see as a little cheeky “borrowing” of an idea. The latest John Lewis Christmas ad bears quite a resemblance to Riddell’s Mr Underbed. In response, here’s Riddell’s very own “heartwarming Christmas ad”…..

And more from Mr Riddell – The Sisyphean punishment of Brexit negotiations – Chris Riddell in the Guardian:


Stephen Collins on the secret hierarchy surrounding your Christmas trees over at the Guardian:

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

One Response to Stuff (& Possibly Nonsense) #142

  1. John De la Cruz says:

    If you can get to Shoreditch this may be of interest: